Stephen Wilkinson, RTPI General Assembly Representative for RTPI London writes about the latest General Assembly meeting which was held on Wednesday 16th October:
Updates were received from Andrew Taylor, Chairman of the Board of Trustees and Trudi Elliott, CEO covering:
- Subscription rates – whilst these are agreed there is some debate over the potential for all student members to receive free membership in the centenary year. Interestingly a ‘soapbox’ session delivered by Ron Tate later in the morning identified some concerns from retired members over the levels of subscriptions which they are required to pay.
- A mixed picture on the health of the professional body was presented with on the one hand a relatively high number of nominations for various positions including the Vice President, members of the Board of Trustees and corporate members of the GA. However there are concerns that the diversity of the membership is not reflected in membership of the various Panels and for a – something being worked upon.
Trudi Elliott reported on the final preparations for the Centenary year and how impressed she is by the activities being presented by the Regions. A pack to support the Ambassador’s programme is being developed. Trudi also reported that feedback on both the inaugural issue of ‘The Planner’ and the Friday briefing has been generally positive. This view was shared by the President. RTPI London has provided feedback to the wider Institute on ‘The Planner’.
Dave Valler (Oxford Brookes) and Nick Phelps (UCL) presented on a small project funded by the RTPI. This covered how growth is being delivered in three areas of the country which cut across local authority boundaries; termed as ‘soft spaces’. These are the ‘Gatwick Diamond, Science Vale (south Oxfordshire) and south Hants, Their research will be published next year. One conclusion drawn from this work is that despite the localism agenda authorities are working across boundaries in each of these areas to create the right conditions to support economic growth.
A short presentation was received from Annette Brooke MP, Joint Chair, Liberal Democrat CLG Parliamentary Committee and coordinator of the Party’s review of Planning. The key announcement was that the Liberal Democrats are looking at an annual target of 300,000 new homes to be built per annum. Annette is keen to work with the RTPI to develop ideas around assessing housing need, developing a balance between national, regional and local need and how sufficient land can be delivered on time.
Richard Blyth, Head of Policy at the RTPI reported on his research into the delivery of large scale housing schemes. Figures on housing starts from 1919 indicate that even during the 1920s and 1950s when house building peaked at around 220-270,000 houses per annum the private sector only built around 135,000 houses with the rest built by either local authorities or housing associations. Clearly a sobering conclusion given the large scale figures currently being publicly debated in Westminster!